Elimination and Challenge Diet & OAB

Bladder control problems that are not the result of neurological damage, poor muscle tone, or hormone deficiencies may result from irritability within the bladder or urethral tissues caused by chronic inflammation and/or food sensitivities. An elimination and challenge diet can help determine a food sensitivity.

Symptoms that can occur on a food challenge include the following:

  • Headache (may be brief or prolonged)
  • Nausea, stomachache, sharp abdominal pain
  • Sore throat, stuffy nose, runny nose, itchy nose or eyes
  • Skin rash or itching, facial flushing, red ears
  • Sleepiness, insomnia, fatigue, apathy
  • Irritability, depression, anxiety
  • Excitability (feeling hyper or "buzzed")
  • Aching or twitching muscles

Symptoms associated with food challenges may not be the same symptoms experienced before the elimination process. For example, before the elimination and challenge diet began, a patient's symptom was chronic sinus pain, but a stomachache occurred during the challenge. This does not mean that the food group being challenged was not causing the sinus pain. It is just that the body and immune system react differently when the offending agent is removed and then reintroduced.

Elimination & Challenge Diet: Option 1

For 2 to 6 weeks, eliminate all suspect foods and focus diet on fresh fruits, vegetables, potatoes, yams, animal protein (fish, poultry, lamb), and nonglutenous grains (rice, buckwheat). Eat organic foods whenever possible.

After 2 to 6 weeks of maintaining a strict elimination diet, there should be relief from symptoms. Weight may also be lost. Now begin the challenge. Start with the food group that is least problematic. Challenge a specific food group for one day only. Eat several servings of that food group throughout the day. Then do not eat that food again for at least 48 hours while continuing to eat only elimination diet foods. If symptoms do not return after 48 hours, go on to the next suspected food group. However, feel free to wait more than 48 hours. Waiting a week between food group challenges is optimal. This increases the accuracy of the diagnosis. Remember to challenge only one food group at a time.

Continue this process until the problematic food group is determined. In most cases, reactions occur within 48 hours. Rarely do symptoms appear several days or weeks later.

Elimination & Challenge Diet: Option 2

Maintain a regular diet and eliminate only the food group that is believed to be causing the symptoms. Eliminate all items in that food group for at least 1 month. If the symptoms disappear before the end of the month, continue to abstain from that food group for another week before starting the challenge.

To do the challenge, eat several servings of the suspect food group during a 24-hour period. Then return to the elimination diet and do not eat the suspect food group for at least 48 hours. More often than not, immediate reactions occur if there is a sensitivity.

Herbal Support & OAB

Soothing urinary tract tonics may help heal the bladder and related nervous irritation. Also drink 2–3 quarts of water daily.

Herbs to use as tea:

  • Cleavers (Galium aparine)— traditional urinary tonic
  • Marshmallow root (Althea officinalis)—soothing demulcent properties, best in "cold infusion" (Soak herb in cold water several hours; strain and drink.)
  • Buchu—soothing diuretic and antiseptic for the urinary system
  • Corn silk (Zea mays)—soothing, diuretic
  • Horsetail (Equisetum arvense)—astringent, tissue-healing properties, mild diuretic
  • Usnea lichen—very soothing and antiseptic

Anti-inflammatory Support & OAB

  • Flax oil: 1 tablespoon daily
  • Vitamin C: 500 mg, 2 to 3 times daily with meals
  • Bromelain 400 mg or Wobenzyme 5 tablets: 3 times a day away from meals
  • Vitamin E: 400 IU daily

Homeopathic Support & OAB

Homeopathic treatment for overactive bladder can be started only after a physician has eliminated causes that require medical treatment. A trained homeopathic practitioner is needed to diagnose and prescribe a deep acting, constitutional remedy. For acute, symptomatic relief, the following remedies may relieve some of the symptoms associated with incontinence.

  • Causticum for stress incontinence associated with frequent urging and difficulty urinating
  • Natrum muriaticum for stress incontinence associated with the menopausal symptoms of vaginal dryness, painful intercourse and a history of emotional grief.
  • Pareira for difficulty urinating due to prostate enlargement.
  • Sepia for stress incontinence with sudden urging, especially associated with vaginitis or prolapsed uterus.
  • Zincum for difficulty urinating while standing up (must sit to initiate flow), associated with prostate problems.

Standard dosage for acute symptom relief is 12c to 30c, 3 to 5 pellets taken 3 times a day until symptoms resolve. If you have chosen the right remedy, you should experience improvement shortly after the first or second dose.

Warning: Most homeopathic remedies are delivered in a small pellet form that has a lactose sugar base. If you are lactose intolerant, be advised that a homeopathic liquid may be a better choice.

Publication Review By: Daniel Khouri, M.D., Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 09 Jun 1998

Last Modified: 29 Sep 2015